Manchester United boss David Moyes has been trawling the continent in his pursuit of January signings.
With just 10 days of the window remaining, however, he is still to secure his first addition.
Chelsea’s Juan Mata, Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani and former United midfielder Paul Pogba, now with Juventus, have been among the names linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Moyes will no doubt be aware that his summer efforts in the transfer market ended in catastrophe.
Failed approaches for Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines and Gareth Bale saw the champions bring in just Marouane Fellaini for £27.5million on deadline day, the Belgian having subsequently struggled to impact.
United’s title hopes are now all but gone as they reside in seventh, some 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
If they are to resurrect their season then recruitment is needed.
Here, Sportsmail outlines our 10 reasons why Moyes must sign players NOW rather than wait for the summer window.
Players of Mata’s calibre are not so openly available too often. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho very quickly determined that the Spaniard – the Blues’ player of last season – did not figure at the forefront of his plans.
The west Londoners have quoted United a price of £40m and, despite suspicion the fee is a little lofty, the chance to secure a player of such craft and invention would be too good to forgo.
Indeed, Mata has created 30 chances for team-mates this season; the same number as Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa, Darren Fletcher and Marouane Fellaini have between them.
2) One last tilt at top four…
By the time January ends, there will be 15 games of the Premier League season still to play. Currently, United are six points shy of fourth position and in grave danger of missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 19 years.
The consequences of such would be huge and, despite the obvious financial hit, the lure of signing for United would be significantly reduced. New additions are needed to spark an upturn in their flailing fortunes and lead the late-season scramble for the top four.
3) January is a GOOD month to buy…
Lazy punditry would have you believe that ‘January is a bad month to buy’. It is not. Just ask Liverpool supporters who have drooled over the irresistible efforts of Luis Suarez this season, the striker who was a £23m arrival from Ajax three years ago.
Likewise, 12 months ago, Newcastle saved their season with the addition of five French players. Still, though, this snobbery towards the winter window exists and, thus, many clubs declare themselves as non-runners. United should take full advantage of this reduction in competition.
4) Summer targets could find their holidays cut short…
4) Summer targets could find their holidays cut short…
Were United to qualify for the Europa League via the League Cup, then they would face a qualifier in July – the same month as the World Cup finishes.
It would prove a little off-putting for potential signings if faced with the prospect of such an early return to pre-season training – get those targets in now and this awkward issue is avoided.
5) World Cup exposure would see value – and competition – rocket…
The bulk of the players linked with United this month will be in action at the World Cup. Such exposure not only has a tendency to escalate transfer fees, it also alerts rivals to their talents.
Were Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal to star for Chile, for example, or Cavani to hit the goals trail for Uruguay, then a scramble for their signature would no doubt ensue.
6) Moyes and Woodward need to make a statement…
Moyes has been accused of lacking the pulling power of predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson. Likewise, at boardroom level, new chief executive Ed Woodward is operating in the shadow of the man he replaced, David Gill.
The pair need a statement signing to silence such suspicion. Ferguson had said that United were ready to ‘push the boat out’ during the summer window, they barely emerged from the Manchester Ship Canal under the steer of Moyes and Woodward.
A big-name arrival now would restore the club’s reputation as transfer-market heavyweights.
7) Keeping Rooney and RVP onside…
If United’s struggle of late has proved anything, it is their reliance on sidelined strike pairing Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Doubt has been cast on the future of both at the club but, were United to bring in players of equal influence before the end of January, they could well be persuaded to pledge their allegiance to the cause.
8) A timely tonic for restless supporters…
It’s not only a case of keeping Rooney and Van Persie happy. Supporters, too, are in need of a tonic.
There’s nothing like a new signing to rouse spirits and rally optimism. A couple of new boys would give those increasingly-frustrated followers a reason for cheer amid the fear.
9) Stagger the seismic shake-up…
It is widely accepted that United’s squad is in need of a drastic makeover. They are a group top heavy with fading lights while the young pretenders are struggling to shine.
If the summer is going to see a seismic shake-up, they could well be advised to begin the process now, at least affording signings the time to acclimatise and blend into their new surrounds.
10) And finally, Wembley woe needs to be prevented...
United should be able to reverse their one-goal deficit when they face Sunderland in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final on Wednesday night. That would set up a Wembley final against their city rivals, the noisy neighbours who are currently making one hell of a racket.
On current form, United – beaten 4-1 at the Etihad in September – could well take another licking, a humiliation from which Moyes could struggle to recover.
New signings would at least help to avoid such ignominy – they might even inspire a victory.